Stress is a normal part of life, and needless to say, retirement can cause stress as much as, or more than any other life-changing event baby boomers have dealt with up to this point.
Everyone’s heard the expression, “aging gracefully”, and indeed, this simple adage is good advice.
We’ll face many changes during the next phase of our lives and it’s how we handle them that’s important. (You may find How to Embrace Change and Be a Happy Retiree, a useful article.)
There are a number of stressors that can create anxiety and wreck retirement happiness.
I’m going to take a look at 9 of them and give a few pointers on how to cope.
1. Fear of Loneliness
Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me. – Anne Hathaway
Several years ago I did a simple exercise. My 80 something dad was living alone at the time, and I began to imagine what his life was like.
My house was empty, except for me, and I sat quietly pondering life if by some misfortune my family didn’t return that evening.
And even though I relish my alone time, the realization that I would be completely alone gave me chills.
More people 62 and over are living alone than ever before in history. And, understandably, the likelihood of living alone increases with age. It’s no wonder that it makes the top of my list in boomer’s fears.
There are 3 major factors that contribute to the fear of loneliness.
-Death of Spouse – As you would expect, this is the number one life event that causes the most stress for individuals. When you’ve been happily married for a very long time, it can be quite unsettling anticipating the day when your soul mate won’t be there.
When they leave the earth plane, the best thing you can do is to find solace in the knowledge that they have completed this part of their journey.
-Divorce – Statistics show the divorce rate growing for boomers entering retirement. As a generation, baby boomers are youthful, energetic, and a bit self-centered. They have things they want to do and have no intention of growing old with a spouse they can’t stand.
Yet, divorce is like a double-edged sword. With newfound freedom comes an abundance of alone time.
Pew Research says, “Gray divorcees tend to be less financially secure than married and widowed adults, particularly among women. And living alone at older ages can be detrimental to one’s financial comfort and, for men, their satisfaction with their social lives.”
The person that made you miserable may also be the only person that would keep you company in old age.
-Smaller Families – The counter-culture of the 60s and 70s brought about changing attitudes towards marriage, and family.
Boomers rejected social norms, which led to the “Me” generation having fewer children.
Many boomers waited until later in life to have children, and many have no children at all.
The size of one’s family is a personal choice, but consequently, there are fewer family members around to fill the void of loneliness.
If loneliness is a concern for you, you can learn some tips on how to cope with it in this article, fear of loneliness.
2. Worry about Getting Older/Looking Older
Sometimes I can’t believe I’m going to be 60. I always say there’s no point moaning about getting older, when there’s nothing you can do about it. But still, I do find it quite funny. I look at that number, 60, and I think, ‘Really? Me?’ -Twiggy
Boomer’s are obsessed with youth. As adolescents, we didn’t trust anyone over 30 and it’s hard to accept that we are now viewed as The Golden Girls and Grumpy Old Men.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with trying to look good, keep fit, and maintain youthful vitality. I think once you succumb to being old, you will get old.
However, it’s not worth worrying over because as Twiggy says, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
And it’s better than the alternative of not getting older.
Although it won’t hurt to use these tips on How to Look Younger.
Did you know that a spritz of a pink grapefruit scent can help you pull off a younger-looking vibe? Interesting. This incredible factoid comes from WikiHow.
Bath and Body Works’ Creams are my favorite, and while I haven’t tried this fragrance, I am putting it on my wish list. Feel free to click over and check the price on Amazon. If you decide to buy, we’ll get a few pennies, but your costs don’t change. Thanks for the support!
3. Anxiety about Failing Health
I think that age as a number is not nearly as important as health. You can be in poor health and be pretty miserable at 40 or 50. If you’re in good health, you can enjoy things into your 80s. – Bob Barker
We’ve all heard it. Save for retirement because if you don’t, when your health fails you won’t have enough money to cover the medical expenses.
Yikes! That’s a bad seed to plant into someone’s psyche!
There’s no denying that our bodies change as we age. But that doesn’t mean that we should anticipate illness.
Genes play an important role, and, yes, it’s beneficial to have parents that were in good shape both mentally and physically.
Yet, studies indicate that you can strongly influence your health and longevity with positive habits.
A daily spiritual practice, regular exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition goes a long way to avoiding a trip to the doctor.
Visit the Academy of Sleep Medicine for more on the health benefits of sleep.
4. Fear of Not Accomplishing Goals
An important part of any focusing regimen is to set aside time at the end of the day – just before going to sleep – to acknowledge your successes, review your goals, focus on your successful future, and make specific plans for what you want to accomplish the next day. -Jack Canfield
Accomplishing goals takes commitment, discipline, and faith.
Find your daily step by step program, and reward yourself for small successes.
Vanessa Van Edwards, the brainchild of The Science of People is one of my favorite go-to behavioral investigators for understanding body language and honing people skills.
Don’t let the lack of achieving your goals cause you anxiety.
Visit Vanessa’s article, Goal Setting: 5 Science-Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals, for a unique perspective on how to accomplish all of the goals on your list.
5. Terrified of Losing Independence
I value my independence a lot, and the thought of having to lose that due to age or any other reason terrifies me. -R. Madhaven
The fear and anxiety of losing independence and having someone take care of us is a real concern for baby boomers.
Most want to age in place and the thought of being put in a nursing home is a fear worse than death.
What can you do? Prepare ahead of time for how you want to live as an elderly person. Strive for independence, and take measures now that will enable you to stay vigorous and sprightly.
Ditch the idea of moving to a retirement community of 55 plus. A big disadvantage to these communities is that there are no young people around. You’ll get older quicker being around oldsters.
6. Losing Mental Processing
I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach. -Mary Roach
This video by the Memory Foundation will help you get started exercising your brain.
More and more boomers are having senior moments and it is scaring the shit out of them.
Everyone has brain fog now and then. Except when you’re older and have difficulty remembering something, it can be scary.
The good news, however, is that cognitive function need not decline as you age.
Research shows that your brain can grow in capacity and efficiency as long as you continue to stimulate it.
Memory exercise is an excellent way to keep your brain fit for life.
7. Afraid of Boredom
There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever. -Viggo Mortensen
Boomers that have had jobs occupy them all of their lives are concerned about retirement boredom.
They’ve identified themselves with their job and many have not learned how to occupy themselves outside of the workforce.
You have a very limited view of life’s opportunities if you are afraid of being bored in retirement.
Take a photography class, learn to play an instrument, listen to lectures on Youtube – the possibilities are endless.
Try Meet-Ups.com and find something interesting and fun to do!
8. Dread Being with Spouse 24 Hours a Day
Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery. -Erma Bombeck
Rest assured you are not alone if you dread being with your spouse 24 hours a day.
Although, experience tells me that the thought of this is most worrisome for women.
Realistically, a spouse can get on your nerves – especially, if they have unrealistic expectations of what retirement should be like.
It’s essential to embrace change, be flexible, and encourage communication.
Retirement should be a harmonious experience for both husband and wife.
If you’d like to learn how to adopt a win-win attitude for conflict resolution, you may benefit from my article “Don’t Compromise with Your Spouse on Retirement Plans.
9. Fear of Going to Grave Without a Legacy
No legacy is so rich as honesty. -William Shakespeare
Many people think money is their legacy. And while leaving a big inheritance is nice, the example you set and the wisdom you impart speaks more about your life than how much money you leave to your children and grandchildren.
Do you entertain others with colorful stories, run marathons, drive tractors, knit beautiful sweaters, write long letters? What makes you, you?
Whatever makes you unique is your legacy. That is what you will be remembered for.
If you begin reflecting and don’t like your legacy, make changes to improve it.
The quote above by William Shakespeare really speaks to me because it aligns with what Rebel Retiree says about truth in his article Unrebellious Retirees, Leaving a Legacy in Retirement.
The article is filled with food for thought. But most of all, it implores you to tell the truth. It’s the best legacy of all.
It goes without saying that retirement can cause stress. However, with preparation, consideration, and a good attitude, you can alleviate many of the worries that concern you.
What’s your biggest fear about retirement and getting older? Let’s start a conversation. Leave a comment below.